An economist in the House of Representatives on Friday revealed that the lower chamber will adopt the Senate version of the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations tax bill as legislators cited the need to immediately raise P13.4 billion from POGO operators to boost the government’s financial capability in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda of Albay, chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, said the House leadership under Speaker Lord Allan Velasco has vowed to adopt the POGO tax regime that was proposed by senators.
Salceda recommended the House action as he noted that POGO taxes will guarantee the government additional P176.9 billion income in five years.
“Both versions impose a five tax on gross gaming receipts for “offshore gaming licensees” and a 25 percent tax on gross income for nonresident aliens working under the Service Providers of these licensees,’ said Salceda, referring to the nearly identical versions of the two legislative chambers.
“Secretary Dominguez is right. The House leadership, at my recommendation, will adopt the POGO tax regime approved by the Senate,” said Salceda.
The House action to adopt the Senate version will no longer require the creation of a bicameral conference committee that may result to the insertion of riders or amendments that at times veer away from the original intent of the legislative proposal.
Salceda stressed the Senate versions “contains only minor reworkings of the House version, and there is no difference between their tax rates and tax bases, and those of the House version.’’
“We were the first draft, and they made very few modifications. So, recognizing the respect that the Senate extended to the House version, we will adopt their changes, which in my view are acceptable,” the veteran administration lawmaker pointed out.
President Duterte has certified as urgent the POGO tax bill.
Five provisions contained in the Senate version that congressmen found to be “non-contentious” are:
1. Requirement on every alien employee of offshore gaming licensees (OGL) commonly known as POGO to secure a Tax Identification Number (TIN);
2. Removal of the provision that POGOs currently registered with other special economic zones will pay at their current tax rate or 5% of gross gaming revenues, whichever is higher, and instead makes the five percent rate uniform. This is of little consequence.
3. Granting the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation the sole authority to issue new POGOs licenses and regulate their operations
4. No specific provision that specifically imposes that the income reported by POGO employees for tax purposes can be used as a basis for the computation of other mandatory contributions; and
5. The taxable period for the Senate version, for both POGO taxes and employee taxes, is monthly.